Nov 06 2009

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Kicking up Leaves

Posted at 10:52 am under Blog Post

I went for a short walk in the woods the other day, kicking up leaves all the way.  The trail was covered with them.  Beneath a partly cloudy sky on a windless afternoon, it was easy to ignore the chill in the air.  Comfortable in a sweater, I pretended that it was Indian Summer even though the time for that has passed.  I kicked up leaves and, for a moment or two, was a little boy again.  The rustling sound of the dried leaves took me back.

Matika terrorized the squirrels that were busy collecting nuts in the eleventh hour.  I called her off them at first then let her enjoy her predator fantasy.  She mopes around the house all day as I work, waiting for something to happen, so I let her have her fun when she can.  The expression on her face when she’s leaping through the forest duff makes me wish I were a dog.  Like the happiest old people I know, dogs never completely abandon the wild exuberance of youth.

Near the top of the hill, I stopped to admire my surroundings.  The late autumn forest has a charm to it that is difficult to describe.  Dark green conifers and ferns, the brown withering vegetation scattered across the forest floor, and moss-covered rocks that defy seasonal change – the late autumn forest is all this and something more, something that words can’t touch.  I catch only a glimpse of it when the sun slips behind the clouds then shines brightly again.  Call it a moment of shadowy transcendence and leave it at that.

A few maple leaves cling stubbornly to branches and I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just let go.  Then again, why don’t I?  I, too, am still clinging to the warm season, or is it the daylight that I don’t want to lose?  Hard to say.  I’ve had this conversation with myself many times and can’t figure out whether it’s the cold or the darkness that I don’t like about winter.  To stubborn leaves and certain woods wanderers, there’s no real difference between the two.

The mums in the planters around my house have lost their bloom.  Even they have succumbed to the hard frost.  Even the best artificial lights can’t change the fact that the growing season has ended in these northern latitudes.  It’ll be another five months before green shoots emerge on the forest floor again.  Once I accept that fact, I’ll be able to don my woolies and embrace winter.  But no, I don’t think I’ll do that right away.  For the time being, I think I’ll just kick up leaves like a little boy and dream about warmer, sunnier days.

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